Nearly four decades ago, husband-and-wife team and metro Detroiters, Elaine and Mark Blumenfeld, opened a women’s casual apparel boutique in West Bloomfield, specializing in premium denim. In naming it, Mark went with the obvious . . . along with a little tongue-and-cheek humor. He says, “Well, I figured if we were going to be looking at and dressing up tushies all day, why not just say that…and so Rear Ends was born.”
While many family-owned businesses can prove challenging for loved ones working together in close quarters, both professionally and personally, Mark, Elaine and Ariana are tighter than ever, and the store’s well-established reputation for quality and customer service remain solid. In fact, the only downside the family can see to opening the second location is that they don’t see each other as much being split between the two stores.
“Rear Ends has been around longer than, Ariana,” noted Mark. “And while the past and present have been more rewarding than we could’ve imagined, I couldn’t be more excited about the future of our business with Ariana at the helm.”
As a second-generation family business owner, and with an increased leadership role in the growing Rear Ends operations (along with a recent wedding!), Ariana lately has spent a lot of time reflecting on her changing landscape and the business, fashion industry, metro Detroit community and religion that she loves. Here she shares some of her insights…
Ariana on Judaism
Elaine and Mark are currently active members of Temple Israel and Ariana joins them regularly. The temple’s Rabbi Josh Bennett officiated her recent wedding.
A Tamarack Camper for many summers and a “BBG” girl in her youth, Ariana was actively involved in Jewish teen life. She was the YAD social committee chair for two years, and a member of the Board for one. She celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at Workman’s Circle in Oak Park, where her Bubbie and Zayde, Sara and Mo Caplan, were founding members
“I’m really proud to be Jewish, and to be part of such a vibrant, warm and welcoming Jewish community,” said Carps.
“The culture of Judaism is a huge part of who I am. I may not attend weekly Shabbat services, but the ideals and values of family, education, work ethic and community service are integral to my persona, both personally and professionally.”
Ariana on Retail Business
“With all due respect to the masterminds behind consumer websites like Amazon.com, they are the worst thing to happen to clothing shoppers…ever,” said Carps. “Clothes shopping should be an interactive, conversational experience, complete with friendly, expert feedback and personalized customer service.”
Carps continues, “Amazon can’t ask about your recent simcha, or remember that you already have a black blazer like the one you’re looking at buying right now, or point out that you have eight pairs of basic skinny jeans, so it’s time to branch out a little bit…but we can.”
Additionally, Ariana is passionate about shopping local. “Every dollar spent at a small, locally-owned and operated retail establishment is an investment in metro Detroit…you are using your spending power to say local jobs and local business are important to me and to a thriving, stable community,” continued Carps.“You don’t have to shop at Rear Ends, even though I would like you to, but you should definitely close your internet browser to see the incredible locally owned stores in this community.”
Ariana on Local Fashion
“Metro Detroit, and especially the Jewish community of metro Detroit, is very fashion-conscious,” says Carps. “That said, what is being shown in magazines and on celebrities that live in New York and Los Angeles isn’t necessarily what works for us here in the Midwest…we help people modify high style and national trends for what is practical, functional and fashionable locally.”
Always one to emphasize the importance of function as a part of fashion, Carps says shoppers need to think of climate/weather conditions and their personal lifestyle when they shop trends or desire to adopt a celebrity’s signature look. “It’s a matter of common sense…you can’t wear high-heeled, open-toed boots to the grocery store in February in Michigan…the outfit might look good in your mirror, but the frostbite won’t look good later on.”
Ariana on Spring Trends
So what fashions should Metro Detroiters be on the lookout for this spring? “In denim, it’s all about flares,” said Carps. “They add some really nice variety to a woman’s casual wardrobe this season…a great-fitting pair of flare jeans, with an upgraded t-shirt and a pair of wedges is an effortless and winning look for sure.”
That said, Carps assures there’s no need to ditch your closet full of skinny jeans. “The skinny jean isn’t going anywhere…the nice thing about the fashion this coming season is that everything is included. Your skinny jeans are still totally in style. The straight leg, boyfriend and flare will just allow you to add some variety to your wardrobe.”
Speaking of warmer weather, Carps says the earthy, breezy, Bohemian style will be a big trend this summer. “Between flare denim and flowy dresses and tops, it will feel a bit like the rebirth of hippie fashion, but more refined for 2016. “It is a more fitted and feminine take on the trend,” says Carps.
Ariana on Looking Good, Feeling Good
“Some people will belittle fashion as silly or shallow or unnecessary, but I find that opinion to be awfully short-sighted,” asserted Carps. “Getting dressed and caring about how you look can have so many advantages…when you look better, you feel better…you’re more productive, people perceive of you differently.”
She continues, “And your jeans are the best tool for keeping yourself honest about weight management. We are strong advocates for buttoning and zipping three times a week.”
Ariana says much of this in response to the athletic wear “uniform” that has swept the nation and has a particularly strong hold on the local community. “If people spent just a minute looking around, they’d quickly realize that everyone essentially looks like same…black compression leggings, black fitted zip-up jackets…it’s like an army of women in workout gear, except not in the gym…I wish I could ban the uniform,” she jokes.
“With all of the wonderful options in clothing, why in the world would you want to spend your precious time and dollars to look just like everyone else? The fun of fashion is expressing yourself and your individuality…taking a fashion risk is usually very rewarding!”